Blackstone Puts €400M Of Catalunya Banc’s Mortgages Up For Sale

27 March 2017 – Expansión

The banks have put a red circle around 2017 in their calendars, as the year when the doubtful portfolios that have hurt them so hard in the past and that are still denting their balance sheets even now, will show signs of life. Some of the entities may end up generating more profits than they initially expected.

And Blackstone is leading the way. The US giant has created a securitisation fund containing some of the non-performing loans with a nominal value of €6,000 million that it purchased from Catalunya Banc in 2015 for almost €3,600 million. Two years later, and after restructuring many of the credits, the investment group has decided that the time has come to capitalise on its investment.

It will do so with the sale to investors of a portfolio containing €403 million of these formerly delinquent loans. It represents Blackstone’s second foray into this field. Last year, the firm opened fire with the first securitisation of structured loans in Europe, although now it is redoubling its efforts given that the volume up for sale is 52% higher.

The fund comprises 3,307 residential mortgages granted in Spain, with a loan to value (credit over the value of the home) of 60.9%. Almost 80% of these mortgages have been restructured and many of the borrowers are up to date with their repayments. Meanwhile, there has been no change to the rest, according to information that Blackstone has provided to Moody’s to allow the risk ratings agency to make its assessment.

Profits

Blackstone’s aim is to sell this portfolio to investors in order to materialise some of the gains obtained from the management of the non-performing loans. In all likelihood, the securitisation fund will be placed below its nominal value, but at a much higher level than Blackstone paid when it acquired the mortgages from Catalunya Banc, before the State intervened entity was acquired by BBVA.

In exchange, Blackstone will offer different coupons to investors, depending on the type of mortgages that they take on.

The fund has been divided into five tranches, depending on the risk. The first has a very high level of solvency and so will pay annual interest of 3-month Euribor plus a spread of 0.90%.

The second and third tranches, which still have high or intermediate solvency ratings, will pay premiums over Euribor of 1.9% and 2.5%, respectively. The fourth tranche is ranked below investment grade and will pay a return of 2.6%.

The objective of Blackstone and the three banks that it has engaged for the securitisation (Credit Suisse, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank) is that the operation will be completed next week.

A new market

This second securitisation by Blackstone is clear confirmation that a new market has opened up for buyers of delinquent portfolios from the banks. In fact, sources from several investment banks are confident that there will be a significant volume of secondary operations of this kind this year, where the new owners of the bank’s non-performing loans will sell their positions to other funds and to the market alike, through securitisations. (…).

Original story: Expansión (by Inés Abril)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Bankinter Revives Fixed Rate Mortgage War

9 June 2016 – Expansión

A new battle has commenced in the war between the banks to grant fixed rate mortgages. One of the most active entities in the commercial supply of these products, Bankinter, is redoubling its efforts. Yesterday, the bank announced widespread cuts in interest rates on its 5-, 10-, 15- and 20-year mortgages. Bankinter, whose fixed rate mortgages were already amongst the most competitive in the market, has cut the interest rate on its ten-year home loans from 1.75% to 1.6%; on its fifteen-year home loans from 2% to 1.8%; and on its twenty-year home loans from 2.3% to 2.1%.

The zero interest rate environment in the Eurozone has led the banks to offer fixed rate mortgages, given that 12-month Euribor, which is the index to which most floating rate mortgages are linked, is trading at negative rates (-0.018%). In this context, it is more profitable for the banks to offer fixed rate mortgages, given the limited margin they are able obtain on their variable rate products.

The main advantage for customers is that they know the amount of interest they will have to pay on the day they take out the mortgage; that figure is fixed and will not vary for the duration of the mortgage term. In other words, clients are protected against possible interest rate rises, although they would not benefit from any further hypothetical decreases.

Bankinter’s fixed rate mortgage has an arrangement fee of 1%, with a minimum of €350. It also charges a penalty of 0.5% during the first five years of the life of the loan in the event of its total or partial repayment, and of 0.25% thereafter, as well as a commission of 0.75% to offset the interest rate risk, in the event that the early repayment generates a loss of capital for the entity.

If Bankinter’s fixed rate mortgages are taken out to purchase a primary residence, then the value of the loan may not exceed 80% of the purchase price or appraisal value (the lesser of the two amounts). If the product is requested for a secondary residence, then the limit is 60% of the lower of those two values.

In addition, in order to benefit from these interest rates, the bank requires its borrowers to receive their salary into their Bankinter account, as well as to take out life assurance and home insurance with the entity. The applicable interest rates are higher if these products are not contracted.

The reductions also apply to the fixed element of Bankinter’s 15- and 20-year mixed (fixed and floating) rate mortgages, which decrease to 2% and 2.3%, respectively.

Original story: Expansión (by A.R.)

Translation: Carmel Drake

Office Rents Rose By 5% In Q1 2016

11 May 2016 – Expansión

The reactivation of the real estate market is also being reflected in the office segment. The average price of offices in Spain increased by 5% during the first quarter of the year, according to a report about the sector by the real estate portal misoficinas.es. The report indicates that the market is continuing its positive trend, but “in moderation”. Searches for offices centre around Madrid and Barcelona, which account for 75% of the total, and the prices of offices sought, at the global level, have increased with respect to the same period in 2015, by 7.81% in terms of the minimum price and by 2.81% in terms of the maximum price.

In Madrid, potential tenants focus on the financial district, Alcobendas and the west, which account for 90% of all searches. Users searched for office spaces that are 5% larger than in the same period last year in the centre of the capital. Also in the capital, the rental price of offices sought rose by 6.71% during the first quarter, to reach €12.31/sqm. The size of the spaces being sought in Madrid also increased, up from 585 sqm to 805 sqm.

In Barcelona, the size of the spaces being sought also increased, to reach maximums of 500 sqm during the first quarter, compared with 416 sqm during the same period in 2015. Nevertheless, the report noted a decrease of 5.47% in terms of the average price demanded, with the average price for office space amounting to €9.29/sqm. In this way, the average cost of leasing an office in Madrid is now 32.5% higher than in Barcelona, whereby increasing the differential between the two cities, up from just 17.4% in 2015.

In the rest of Spain, the average price sought rose from €5.86/sqm in 2015 to €6.01/sqm in 2016. The size of space sought also increased, given that in 2015, potential tenants wanted 211 sqm on average compared with 223 sqm in 2016.

Original story: Expansión

Translation: Carmel Drake

Botín Re-Opens The Mortgage Resale Market 8 Years On

10 June 2015 – Cinco Días

The packaging and resale of high-risk, or subprime, mortgages between large financial institutions in the United States was the epicentre of the international crisis that began to unravel in 2007 and which revealed its devastating force one year later, with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

When that bubble burst, it swept away much of the market for mortgage securitisations, amongst other things. In the case of Spain, which had become the second largest market in Europe and one of the most important on the global stage, the market vanished. But now, it is making a come back.

Unión de Créditos Inmobiliarios (UCI), the financing arm of Banco Santander that specialises in loans for home purchases, has just signed the first operation of this kind to be closed with investors since 2007.

Specifically, at the end of May, UCI placed a €450 million package of mortgages, backed by residential homes. The portfolio, which has been assigned a Aa2 rating by Moody’s, is considered to be a high quality product, since it comprises loans that, on average, cover 53.8% of the values of the homes (loan to value), compared with the limit of 80%, recommended as good practice in the sector.

It is understood, therefore, that the clients that took out these mortgages had (access to) significant resources beyond the financing they requested and that the real estate guarantee behind the loans (homes acquired across the whole of Spain between 2006 and 2013, of which 79% are located in Andalucía, Madrid and Cataluña) would more than cover any possible non-payment.

The sale received a great deal of interest from banks and investment funds, primarily those based in Germany, The Netherlands, France, the UK and Spain, with demand for the package exceeding its value by 1.7x, according to sources close to the operation.

The placement coupon was Euribor plus 0.85 points, compared with the differential of 25 or 30 basis points that was paid in Spain eight years ago. That lower differential is being paid now in the UK and The Netherlands, where the market has never completely closed, but where the differential increased to 150 basis points after the outbreak of the crisis.

Sources at UCI, which placed securitisations amounting to €12,000 million between 1994 and 2007, understand that “since this is the first transaction, a premium must be paid in order to return to the market”, but that it is still an “attractive level”.

The same sources say that the step has been taken as the result of three factors. “Until 2014, there were no transactions involving the public issuance of securitisation bonds in countries on the periphery of Europe. Nevertheless, following an RMBS (residential mortgage-based securitisation) bond issue in Italy, we saw an opportunity for us to issue debt”. They add that the debt purchase program launched by the European Central Bank has, in turn, led to the “revitalisation of the securitisation market”. “Despite that, after eight years of paralysis, bond issues have not been possible until now, since we needed to reach a post-crisis economic situation”.

UCI expects to undertake similar issues in the future and hopes that its example will encourage other entities to do the same.

Original story: Cinco Días (by Juande Portillo)

Translation: Carmel Drake